A wildfire in eastern Washington State has left one person dead and destroyed dozens of structures as the authorities have raced to contain blazes across the state and in the nearby Canadian province of British Columbia.
The Gray fire began in Washington around noon on Friday, prompting evacuations, and had burned through 9,500 acres by Saturday morning, threatening the communities of Medical Lake and Four Lakes. The areas, less than 20 miles southwest of Spokane, have a combined population of more than 5,000.
One person has died and 185 structures have been destroyed by the fire, which was zero percent contained as of Saturday morning, according to Joe Smillie, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
A red flag warning, meaning that critical fire conditions were occurring or would soon occur, was also in effect for eastern Washington and northern Idaho through Saturday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
“All Medical Lake citizens, get out now,” Mayor Terri Cooper of Medical Lake said in a Facebook post on Friday. The city later warned residents that local water recommended that residents boil local water before drinking as a safety precaution.
Mr. Smillie added that the fire was being fueled by dry grass and wheat fields.
The fire was spreading farther south, Mr. Smillie said, closer to Cheney, a city of about 13,000 that is home to Eastern Washington University. He added that firefighters were trying to reroute the fire and stop its spread.
Photographs that the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office posted on Friday on the social platform X, formerly known as Twitter, showed pilots flying near a forest through a sky streaked with fire and smoke.
The state’s natural resources department also warned on Friday that strong winds were likely to bring a fire into the United States, toward a protected conservation area. The blaze, the Crater Creek fire, has been burning across the northern border in the British Columbia Cascades since July, consuming at least 54,000 acres. The protected land, the Loomis Natural Resources Conservation Area, is only about half that size.
Another fire in Washington, the Oregon Road fire, has threatened the community of Elk, roughly 30 miles north of Spokane. That blaze, which began on Friday, has consumed more than 3,000 acres and destroyed 30 buildings, according to the state’s natural resources department.
British Columbia was also under a state of emergency order early on Saturday because of wildfires. Some homes on its suburban fringes of Kelowna, a major resort area, had been burning, and a few had been destroyed.
Farther north, most residents of Yellowknife, the capital city of the Northwest Territories with a population of about 20,000, had fled before an evacuation deadline as a wildfire approached the city limits.
Canada has been besieged by a number of wildfires across its provinces this summer. Smoke from the blazes has billowed over parts of the United States in recent months.
Wildfires have also been increasing in size and intensity in the western United States, and fire seasons have grown longer. Recent research has suggested that heat and dryness associated with climate change are major factors contributing to the increase in bigger and stronger fires.